Iloilo town tagged as ASF ‘red zone’

Firefighters and police inspect and disinfect a truck transporting pigs in the town of Alimodian, Iloilo, which is located right next to San Miguel which has been tagged as a Red Zone following the detection of African Swine Fever cases. (Photo from Alimodian Fire Station FB page)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

African Swine Fever (ASF) protocols were heightened in San Miguel, Iloilo on Tuesday, one day after the local council declared a state of calamity after the first cases of the disease in the town were confirmed.

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. issued Executive Order No. 460-A on Tuesday, placing the town under the “Red Zone” classification together with Oton town, where the first ASF cases in the province were identified.

These areas are also called ‘Infected Zones’.

San Miguel had already declared a state of calamity on Monday in response to confirmation that ASF had already hit some of its live hogs.

Under the Red Zone classification, and the movement of live pigs, pork and pork products (either fresh, frozen, or uncooked processed products except those which are cooked and canned), and swine genetic materials in and out of San Miguel is prohibited.

The following containment measures will also be implemented in the town because of the new classification:

  • Intensified monitoring, surveillance, investigation and test and destroy operations, within the municipality by the Local Area Task Force (LATF);
  • Prohibited movement of live pigs, pork, pork products (fresh, frozen, or uncooked processed products except those cooked and canned), and swine genetic materials from the Quarantine Area (QA) – area up to one (1) kilometer from the Infected Area (IP), to Outside Quarantine Area (OQA) – area outside the one (1) kilometer radius from the IP, up to the administrative boundary of the city or municipality classified as a Red Zone;
  • Public or delivery transport shall not carry or deliver live pigs, pork, pork products (fresh, frozen, or uncooked processed products except those cooked and canned), and swine genetic materials from and into the town;
  • Conduct of Red Zone Quarantine Checkpoints by the LATFs and the Philippine National Police; and
  • Monitoring of transport terminals by LATFs for enforcement of this provision.

Areas directly outside of Oton and San Miguel towns are considered as “Pink Zones” or “Buffer Zones”, where surveillance and monitoring of entry and exit of live hogs, all pork and pork products, and other related organisms and items, are likewise being heightened to prevent a spillover of ASF cases.

Towns outside of the Pink Zones are called Yellow Zones (Surveillance Zones), followed by Light (Protected Zones) and Dark Green (Free Zones).

Pink, Yellow, and Light and Dark Green areas have no detected cases of ASF but are subject to risk criteria and protocols as provided by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and local government units.

In an interview at the provincial capital, Defensor said that the provincial government is in consistent coordination with mayors and hog and swine industry stakeholders on the local level to ensure continued trade within and outside of the province despite the ASF cases.

This includes on lockdown protocols, surveillance and monitoring strategies, and depopulation and other containment measures.

“Let’s not panic. We will encounter [ASF] head on and we will help [each other] on it. Like with COVID-19, we ask for understanding, patience, and sacrifice, so that when we can stop it with only a minimal part on the province, it would be better for all of us,” the governor said on Tuesday.

The latest public data on ASF includes 122 confirmed cases from Oton, as announced by Provincial Veterinarian Darel Tabuada last Sunday, October 23, and 4 from San Miguel, as confirmed by its town mayor Marina Luz Gorriceta on Monday, October 24.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday ordered the DA-Region 6 to test all pig farms and breeding sites for ASF, more than a week after the first suspected cases traced to Oton were announced.